Crime Scene Profile

MS TRIPLE HOMICIDE:

James M. Moore #ME-329-93

Steve E. Branch #ME-330-93 Chris M. Byers

#ME-331-93


CRIME SCENE PROFILE


Homicide of James M. Moore 8 Year Old white male; Investigated by Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner Division & City of West Memphis Police Department, West Memphis Arkansas M.E. Case No. ME-329-93

Homicide of Steve E. Branch 8 Year Old white male; Investigated by Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner Division & City of West Memphis Police Department, West Memphis Arkansas M.E. Case No. ME-330-93

Homicide of Chris M. Byers 8 Year Old white male; Investigated by Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner Division & City of West Memphis Police Department, West Memphis Arkansas M.E. Case No. ME-331-93


EQUIVOCAL EXAMINATION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILE OF CASE EVIDENCE Brent E. Turvey, MS Forensic Scientist & Criminal Profiler Knowledge Solutions, LLC 1271 Washington Ave. #274 San Leandro, CA 94577 (510) 483-6739 bturvey@corpus-delicti.com

FOR: Stidham Law Firm, P.A. 203 North Second Street PO Box 856 Paragould, AR 72451 Contact: Dan Stidham; (870) 236-7600 Client: Jessie Misskelly

LOCATION:On May 6th, 1993, all three victims were found, bound wrist to ankle with shoe laces, in the water of a drainage ditch, in a heavily wooded area called the Robin Hood hills, behind the Blue Beacon Truck Wash in West Memphis, Arkansas. An equivocal forensic examination of all available crime scene and autopsy photos, crime scene video, investigator's reports, witness statements, family statements, autopsy reports and numerous other sources to be listed as referenced in the endnote section of this report. The purpose of this preliminary examination was to competently assess the nature of the interactions between the victims and their environments as it contributed to their deaths as indicated by available forensic evidence, and the documentation regarding that evidence.

FORENSIC ANALYSIS

Established Timeline of Events: According to statements made by Mark Byers to Det. Brian Ridge of the West Memphis PD during a formal police interview dated 5-19-93:

From 9:00AM to 2:45PM on 5-5-93, Mark Byers was at a clinic in Memphis having tests performed on him for his health condition.

According to parents of the three victims, Weaver Elementary let out around 3:00PM. All three victims, attendants of Weaver Elementary, would have left school at that time.

According to the Offense Incident Report on file with the West Memphis Police Department, Pamela Hobbs (the mother of Steve E. Branch), reported her son missing at 3:30PM on 5-5-93. She stated that her son left home after arriving there from school, and she hadn't seen him since. This report was filed at 9:25PM.

The following details are taken directly from statements made by Mark Byers to Det. Brian Ridge of the West Memphis PD during a formal police interview dated 5-19-93:

Mark Byers arrived home at 3:10PM. Chris Byers was not waiting outside the home as he was expected to do (Chris Byers did not have a key to the family home, and was supposed to wait for Mark Byers or Ryan Byers, his brother, to let him in). Ryan Byers arrived home at 3:30-3:35PM. At 3:50PM, Mark Byers drove Ryan Byers to the courthouse for a 4:00PM appointment where Ryan was a witness at a trial.

Mark Byers left Ryan Byers at the courthouse, to pick-up his wife Melissa Byers from work. Mark instructed Ryan to get a ride home with Chad Bell and his mother if court got out before he returned.

At 5:20PM, Mark Byers and Melissa Byers arrived at their home and found signs that Chris had been there but had been unable to get into the home through an open window. The front door was locked.

Mark Byers left the home to pick up Ryan at the courthouse, and on the way found Chris Byers playing on his skateboard. Mark Byers drove Chris home and gave him '2 or 3 licks' described as a spanking with his belt in front of Melissa Byers. This was punishment for Chris not waiting outside the family home until Mark or Ryan arrived home to let him in. Ryan had a key, but Mark Byers explained that Chris was too young to have a key.

Mark Byers then left the Byers home to pick up Ryan, and instructed Chris to clean up the area around the carport until he returned.

According to the Offense Incident Report on file with the West Memphis Police Department, Mark Byers reported his step-son, Chris Byers, missing as of 5:30PM on 5-5-93. In the report, Mark Byers states that Chris Byers was last seen cleaning the yard at that time. This report was filed at 8:10PM.

According to the Offense Incident Report on file with the West Memphis Police Department, Diana Moore reported her son, Michael Moore, missing as of 6:00PM on 5-5-93. She states in this report that she observed her son riding bicycles with his friends Steve Branch and Chris Byers at this time. She further states that she lost sight of them, and sent her daughter to find them. The daughter was unable to locate the boys. This report was filed at 9:24PM.

The following details are taken directly from statements made by Mark Byers to Det. Brian Ridge of the West Memphis PD during a formal police interview dated 5-19-93:

At 6:30PM, Mark Byers arrived home with his son Ryan from the courthouse. Chris was not outside the house, and he was not found inside the house. Melissa Byers was, at that time, on the phone with her boss.

From 6:30-7:30PM, Mark, Melissa, and Ryan Byers drove around the neighborhood and surrounding areas and looking for their missing son. There is an indication that they wanted to find him and then proceed to dinner at a local restaurant. During this time, they came across a black police officer on patrol, informed him of their missing son, and Mark Byers claims that the patrolman advised them to wait to make an official report to police until 8:00PM. Mark Byers explained to the officer, at this point, that he was very concerned because his son had never disappeared like this before. (Note: This is in direct conflict with statements made by Melissa Byers in an interview with Det. Allen of the West Memphis PD dated 5-25-93. She states in this interview that Chris had on several occasions disappeared for several hours at a time, and that she believed that Chris lied to her about going to the Robin Hood area at least once.)

At approximately 8:00PM, Officer Regina Weeks of the West Memphis PD arrived at the Byers residence in response to a phone call from Mark Byers that his son Christopher was missing.

At approximately 8:15PM, Diana Moore shows up in the Byers' neighborhood looking for her son James M. Moore. She makes contact with the Byers, and Mark Byers explains that this is the first time he was informed that Chris was with other children. Diana Moore explains that she saw Steve Branch on his bike, James Moore on his bike, and Chris Byers on the back of Steve Branch's bike.

At approximately 8:30PM, Diana Moore, Mark Byers, Melissa Byers, and Ryan Byers begin a search of the last known location of the boys near the Robin Hood area. It was dark by this time, according to Mark Byers. At this time, Mark Byers leaves the search party alone and returns to his home to change his clothing. The search party included, but was not limited to Ryan Byers, Ritchie Masters, Brett Smith, and Brett Smith's sister. Mark Byers was wearing shorts and flip-flops, and changes into boots and coveralls.

After changing his clothes, he returned to the search area and met up with Officer Moore of the West Memphis PD. Together they searched the woods until 10:30 or 11:00PM. At this time, Mark Byers returned home and called the Sheriff to request a search and rescue team. He was advised to call Denver Reed, the leader of the Crittenden County search and rescue team, in the morning.

Mark Byers states that, after this phone conversation, he drove out to the Blue Beacon Truck Wash with his son Ryan. There he told everyone inside what he was doing, informed them of the missing children, and then drove his vehicle around back. He and Ryan stood outside shouting towards the woods for the children, and honking the car horn. They continued this for some time.

After this, Mark Byers and Ryan Byers drove back to the Byers' home and met up with Melissa Byers, Terry Hobbs (Steve Branch's grandfather) and Diana Moore. They talked for a while, then decided to make another pass through the woods in a search effort.

Between 1:30-2:30AM on 5-6-97, Sgt. Ball of the West Memphis PD drove by the Byers residence, and spoke with Mark and Melissa Byers. He advised them that a search was ongoing, and that officers in the area were looking for the children.

Shortly after this, Mark Byers' friend Tony Hudson arrived at the Byers residence. He and Mark Byers went to the Mid-continent building, which had been blown over, and was being rebuilt. They felt that the boys might be playing over there. At that location, they noticed a black van which was locked, and which appeared to belong to the people performing repairs on the building. They searched this location from between 2:00AM to 3:00AM. According to Byers, the children were not found at this location. At that point, Mark Byers decided to wait for daylight before engaging in further search efforts.

At daybreak, Terry Hobbs, Diana Moore and others arrived at the Byers residence to resume search efforts. The search of the Robin Hood area lasted until about 8:00AM.

At 6:30AM, Mark Byers had called Denver Reed and arranged to meet him at the search area with the search and rescue team at approximately 8:30AM-9:00AM.

Between 8:30AM and 9:00AM on 5-6-93, Mark Byers and Denver Reed met, and the search of the Robin Hood area began again.

According to the handwritten, unsigned, un-initialed 6 page investigative report labeled 'Crime Scene Notes' dated 5-6-93, the first body of one of the missing boys was located on Thursday, May 6th, 1993 at 1:45PM, by Sgt. Mike Allen. A location is not given. However it is implied that the body was found in a creek. The first body was pulled from the creek by police officers at 2:45PM.

Det. Ridge located the second body in the creek at 2:56PM, approximately 25ft South of the first body.

At 2:59PM, the third and final body is located in the creek 5ft South of the second body. According to an undated report drafted by Kent Hale, the Crittenden County Coroner, Mr. Hale was contacted by the West Memphis PD on May 6th, 1993 at 3:20PM. He was advised that they had found the bodies of three boys in the woods near the Blue Beacon Truck Wash.

Upon his arrival at the scene, all of the bodies had been removed from the creek, which was actually a drainage ditch, by officers on the scene. Per his official reports, all dated 5-6-93, Kent Hale pronounced all three boys dead at the scene as follows: Steve E. Branch5-6-93, 3:58PMChris M. Byers5-6-93, 4:02PMJames M. Moore5-6-93, 4:02PM

Autopsy Report James M. Moore

The following forensic information is taken directly from the official autopsy report filed by Dr. Frank J. Peretti of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Medical Examiner Division, dated 5-7-93, Case No. ME-329-93 and/ or from The official coroner's report filed by Kent Hale, Crittenden County Coroner, dated 5-6-97.

The purpose of this section is not to present an all inclusive, detailed account and explanation of every piece of information in these reports, but rather to explore these reports, with the corresponding photos, for consistency, possible omissions, and to review injuries or patterns that this examiner deemed to be significant to the case.

The victim, James M. Moore was a white male, 8 years of age, born July 27th, 1984, who died of multiple traumatic injuries to the head, torso, and extremities with drowning. He was found in a drainage ditch, drowned in 2ft of water, near the bodies of two other 8-year-old male victims. He was found completely nude, with his wrists bound to his ankles by shoelaces.

Time of Death Estimates

The Coroner's report completed by Mr. Kent Hale states that lividity (the red discoloration in the skin caused by the pooling and settling of the blood within the blood vessels) was present. It also states that the lividity blanched with pressure. Lividity begins about thirty minutes after death has occurred. After 4 or 5 hours, dependent on environmental conditions, lividity fixes and will not blanche. It takes about 8 to 10 hours for lividity to become fixed. This could place the time of death (which can only be given as a range) of James Moore at sometime after daybreak on May 6th, 1993. However it is only one biological indicator, and no one indicator should be used to determine the time of death.

The Coroner's report completed by Mr. Kent Hale further states that Rigor Mortis (the chemical process of the exhaustion of ATP in muscle tissue, which begins after death, that results in the stiffening or contracting of muscles in the body) was present, but that it was difficult to assess due to the way the victim was bound. As a general biological guideline, Rigor Mortis begins about 2 to 4 hours after death. And full Rigor Mortis is complete about 8 to 12 hours after death. Cold slows Rigor Mortis down, and heat speeds the process up.

When Dr. Peretti conducted his autopsy of James M. Moore, on May 7th, 1993, he stated that 'Rigor was present and fixed to an equal degree in all extremities.' The time that the autopsy was conducted is not noted on the report, therefore is difficult to gauge how far the body was into rigor. However, Dr. Peretti was confident that Rigor was evenly present throughout the extremities, and that he made no mention of any dissolution. As a general guideline, Rigor reaches full even distribution within 12 to 24 hours after death. Also as a general guideline, Rigor begins to disappear within 12 hours after that, at which time decomposition begins. Again, by itself, the use of Rigor Mortis to determine a time of death, or a time range of death, is not advised. Several biological indicators should be used.

As the above suggests, a time of death of any kind is very difficult to estimate given the differences in metabolic processes between individuals, given varying individual anatomy, and given varying environmental factors. The presentation and stages of Rigor Mortis and/ or Livor Mortis (lividity) used to make such estimations are not absolute, and should be treated as guidelines, not hard and fast biological principals to be blanketly generalized from case to case.

Wound Pattern Analysis

This victim received more traumatic head injuries than any of the other victims in this case. Dr. Peretti states that defense wounds were present on the victim's hands. These wounds were very few, indicating that victim was incapacitated quickly after the attack began. So the nature of these head injuries, and the limited defensive type wounds, combine to indicate sudden, forceful, and repeated blows that resulted in abraded contusions, multiple lacerations, and multiple skull fractures.

There is an unexplained directional pattern abrasion just below the victim's right anterior shoulder area.

This unexplained injury does not correspond with any of the physical evidence collected at the location that victim was discovered. It is furthermore inconsistent with any of the naturally occurring elements that exist in that environment. The best conclusion that this examiner can reach is that this pattern abrasion was created by forceful, directional contact with something that was not found at that crime scene, whether it be a weapon, a surface or something else capable of creating that pattern.

The shoelace ligatures used to restrain this victim did not leave deep furrows, and also did not leave abrasions. This indicates that the victim was not struggling while the ligatures were in place. This indicates further that the victim was very much unconscious when the ligatures were affixed to his wrists and ankles.

We know that the victim drowned, that is to say that hemorrhagic edema fluid was present in the victim's lungs, indicating that the victim was breathing when he was placed into the 2ft of water in the drainage ditch at Robin Hood Hills.

Together, these facts suggest that the purpose of the ligatures in this victim's case was to keep the victim from moving around or being able to swim should he regain consciousness once he had been thrown into the water. It is this examiners opinion that the assailant in this case demonstrated all manner of awareness and cognizance at this location. The assailant knew that this victim was not dead when they threw this victim into the water, and that the ligatures would assist to complete the act of deliberate homicide should the victim become conscious.

Sexual Assault/ Rape Indicators

The victim in this case does not show any signs consistent with sexual assault or rape. As Dr. Peretti's examination concluded, no sperm were present in any of the orifices, no injuries were detected on or at the victim's genitals and an examination of the victim's anus revealed no injuries in the mucosal surfaces, which are very tender and sensitive.

Mr. Hale in his Coroner's report states that the victim may have been sexually assaulted. That is not a helpful statement. What may have occurred is not at issue. It is more accurate to state, after a full examination, that there is no evidence of sexual assault. It further important to note that sperm evidence, along with many other types of physical transfer evidence, would have been washed away when the victim was placed in the water. So a determination of whether or not a rape or sexual assault occurred is not always possible under these conditions.

It is also important to note that though the victim's anus was dilated, this by itself does not indicate or suggest anal penetration. The anus is a sphincter; a muscle which is tight and closed in most living individuals, and always open and dilated in deceased individuals. When someone dies their anus relaxes and dilates. The presence of a dilated anus taken to indicate sexual assault or rape is a very common misinterpretation made by untrained individuals when examining those who have met with violent death.

Lack Of Injuries

When compared to the other two victims in this case, who were found at the same location, bound nude with shoelace ligatures in the same fashion, the most striking discrepancy is the lack of injuries suffered by this victim. In the crime scene and autopsy photos made available to this examiner, there were no readily discernible bite marks visible, the genitals have not been visibly disturbed or molested, and there are no discernible stab wounds. This lack of attention is very telling, and will be discussed in the Offender Characteristics section of this report.

There is again a lack of evidence to support any sort of strangulation. Dr. Peretti states that his examination of the neck of this victim revealed no injuries, and the photos that this examiner has seen support that conclusion.

There is also, again, a lack of mosquito bites to this victim, which, as mentioned earlier, suggests that he received his injuries elsewhere first. This because the injuries took time to inflict, time during which many mosquito bites would have been received, even after death.

Recommendations

It is apparent from the physical evidence in this case that James M. Moore was attacked with sudden, violent force from which he defended himself in only a limited fashion. It cannot be known whether or not this was done before or after his clothes were removed. After the attack, he was unconscious, as it was at this point that he was bound with the shoelace ligatures.

It is this examiner's recommendation that the clothes of James M. Moore, recovered from the drainage ditch, be re analyzed by experts to determine if bloodstain patterns are evident. If present, they may tell us the nature and angle of blows delivered; if blood is not present, then this could help establish whether or not the victim was wearing clothes when he was attacked.

Furthermore, the piece of cloth (pictured clutched in the victim's hand at the right), found in this victim's hand at the scene, should be re-examined. This is a very critical piece of physical evidence that has not been fully examined by qualified individuals to determine it's full evidentiary value in this case. The cloth is a potential link from this victim directly to a suspect. Where this victim tore this piece of cloth from is a question that begs answering. And given that it could be physically matched back to the material of origin, this makes its evidentiary value all the greater.

Autopsy Report Steve E. Branch:

The following forensic information is taken directly from the official autopsy report filed by Dr. Frank J. Peretti of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Medical Examiner Division, dated 5-7-93, Case No. ME-330-93 and/ or from The official coroner's report filed by Kent Hale, Crittenden County Coroner, dated 5-6-97.

The purpose of this section is not to present an all inclusive, detailed account and explanation of every piece of information in these reports, but rather to explore these reports, with the corresponding photos, for consistency, possible omissions, and to review injuries or patterns that this examiner deemed to be significant to the case.

The victim, Steve E. Branch, was a white male, 8 years of age, born Nov. 26th, 1984, who died of multiple traumatic injuries to the head, torso, and extremities with drowning. He was found in a drainage ditch, drowned in 2 ft of water, near the bodies of two other 8-year-old male victims. He was found completely nude, with his wrists bound to his ankles by shoelaces.

Time Of Death Estimates

The Coroner's report completed by Mr. Kent Hale states that lividity (the red discoloration in the skin caused by the pooling and settling of the blood within the blood vessels) was present. It also states that the lividity blanched with pressure. Lividity begins about thirty minutes after death has occurred. After 4 or 5 hours, dependent on environmental conditions, lividity fixes and will not blanche. It takes about 8 to 10 hours for lividity to become fixed. This could place the time of death (which can only be given as a range) of Steve Branch at sometime after daybreak on May 6th, 1993. However it is only one biological indicator, and no one indicator should be used to determine the time of death.

The Coroner's report, completed by Mr. Kent Hale, further states that Rigor Mortis (the chemical process of the exhaustion of ATP in muscle tissue, which begins after death, that results in the stiffening or contracting of muscles in the body) was present, but that it was difficult to assess due to the way the victim was bound. As a general biological guideline, Rigor Mortis begins about 2 to 4 hours after death. And full Rigor Mortis is complete about 8 to 12 hours after death. Cold slows Rigor Mortis down, and heat speeds the process up.

When Dr. Peretti conducted his autopsy of Steve E. Branch, on May 7th, 1993, he stated that 'Rigor was present and fixed to an equal degree in all extremities.' The time that the autopsy was conducted is not noted on the report, therefore is difficult to gauge how far the body was into rigor. However, Dr. Peretti was confident that Rigor was evenly present throughout the extremities, and that he made no mention of any dissolution. As a general guideline, Rigor reaches full even distribution within 12 to 24 hours after death. Also as a general guideline, Rigor begins to disappear within 12 hours after that, at which time decomposition begins. Again, by itself, the use of Rigor Mortis to determine a time of death, or a time range of death, is not advised. Several biological indicators should be used.

As the above suggests, a time of death of any kind is very difficult to estimate given the differences in metabolic processes between individuals, given varying individual anatomy, and given varying environmental factors. The presentation and stages of Rigor Mortis and/ or Livor Mortis (lividity) used to make such estimations are not absolute, and should be treated as guidelines, not hard and fast biological principals to be blanketly generalized from case to case.

Wound Pattern Analysis

There are numerous violent, traumatic injuries to this victim's face and head, as well as numerous superficial scratches, abrasions, and contusions noted throughout the rest of his body. Dr. Peretti, however, does not note the presence of extensive defensive wounds.

This indicates a violent, overpowering attack on this victim that he was unable to put up resistance against. The constellation of wounds are very similar to those inflicted on James Moore, however they are much more intense and include the victim's face.

This level of attention paid to the victim's face, in terms of depersonalization and rage, is indicative of familiarity and that will be explored later on in this report.

Furthermore, there is the existence of patterned injuries all over this victim's face that could be bite marks. Since the ME may have missed this crucial evidence, other areas of his body may show bite mark evidence as well. The autopsy photos of this victim supplied to this examiner were not of sufficient quality to make an absolute determination of any kind, and would require a thorough examination by a qualified forensic odontologist for an informed, conclusive analysis. [Dr. Thomas David,board certified forensic odontologist, has confirmed the wound as a human adult bitemark and excluded Damien Echols, JasonBaldwin and Jessie Misskelley as the offender using bite impressions obtained from the men in prison] Bite mark evidence is very important in any criminal case because it demonstrates behavior and lends itself to individuation. It can reveal to an examiner who committed the act, because bite marks can be as unique as fingerprints. And, once established, it also reveals the act itself; biting.

Another unidentified pattern compression abrasion can be found on the back of Steve Branch's head. The source of this injury caused a 3? inch fracture at the base of the skull with multiple extension fractures that terminate in the foramen magnum (that's the hole at the base of the skull where the spinal cord connects to the brain). Upon close examination, this pattern injury is consistent with compression made from footwear. Again, without better photos supplied to the examiner showing a variety of angles, it's very difficult to make a positive identification of any kind. But the pattern is consistent with a footwear impression, and would require a footwear impression expert to analyze and make an informed, competent determination.

The shoelace ligatures used to restrain this victim did leave deep furrows, and also did leave patterned abrasions on both the wrists and ankles. This indicates that the victim was struggling while the ligatures were in place. This indicates further that the victim was very much conscious before or after the ligatures were affixed to his wrists and ankles. We know that the victim drowned, that is to say that hemorrhagic edema fluid was present in the victim's lungs, as well as in the victim's mouth, indicating that the victim was breathing when he was placed into the 2ft of water in the drainage ditch at Robin Hood Hills.

Together, these facts, again, suggest that the purpose of the ligatures in this victim's case was to keep the victim from moving around or being able to swim should he regain consciousness once he had been thrown into the water. It is this examiner's opinion that the assailant in this case demonstrated all manner of awareness and cognizance at this location. The assailant knew that this victim was not dead when they threw this victim into the water, and that the ligatures would assist to complete the act of deliberate homicide should the victim become conscious.

Sexual Assault/ Rape Indicators

As Dr. Peretti's examination concluded, no sperm were present in any of the orifices, no injuries were detected on or at the victim's genitals and an examination of the victim's anus revealed no injuries in the mucosal surfaces, which are very tender and sensitive.

Mr. Hale in his Coroner's report states that the victim may have been sexually assaulted. That is not a helpful statement. What may have occurred is not at issue. It is more accurate to state, after a full examination, that there is no evidence of sexual assault. It further important to note that sperm evidence, along with many other types of physical transfer evidence, would have been washed away when the victim was placed in the water. So a determination of whether or not a rape or sexual assault occurred is not always possible under these conditions.

It is also important to note that though the victim's anus was dilated, this by itself does not indicate or suggest anal penetration. The anus is a sphincter; a muscle which is tight and closed in most living individuals, and always open and dilated in deceased individuals. When someone dies their anus relaxes and dilates. The presence of a dilated anus taken to indicate sexual assault or rape is a very common misinterpretation made by untrained individuals when examining those who have met with violent death.

Lack Of Injuries

There is again a lack of evidence to support any sort of strangulation. Dr. Peretti states that his examination of the neck of this victim revealed no injuries, and the photos that this examiner has seen support that conclusion.

There is also, again, a lack of mosquito bites to this victim, which, as mentioned earlier, suggests that he received his injuries elsewhere first. This because the injuries took time to inflict, time during which many mosquito bites would have been received, even after death.

Recommendations

It is apparent from the physical evidence in this case that Steve E. Branch was attacked with sudden, violent force from which he defended himself in only a limited fashion. It appears as thought this attack took place, at least in part, while his cloths were off and while he was restrained by the shoelace ligatures.

It is this examiner's recommendation that both a forensic odontologist and a footwear impression analyst review the aforementioned photos for evidentiary saliency. Without such experts it will be difficult to accurately assess the validity of the related evidence as indicated by the autopsy photos. The photos indicate pattern evidence that is consistent with bite mark and footwear impression evidence, but without an expert's eye and experience the usefulness of that evidence will be limited.

Autopsy Report Chris M. Byers:

The following forensic information is taken directly from the official autopsy report filed by Dr. Frank J. Peretti of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, Medical Examiner Division, dated 5-7-93, Case No. ME-331-93 and/ or from The official coroner's report filed by Kent Hale, Crittenden County Coroner, dated 5-6-97.

The purpose of this section is not to present an all inclusive, detailed account and explanation of every piece of information in these reports, but rather to explore these reports, with the corresponding photos, for consistency, possible omissions, and to review injuries or patterns that this examiner deemed to be significant to the case.

The victim, Chris M. Byers, was a white male, 8 years of age, born June 23rd, 1984, who died of multiple traumatic injuries to the head, as well as the violent removal of his penis, the scrotal sac, and the testes, and associated cuts and stab wounds to the genital area. This victim was found in a drainage ditch, in 2? ft of water, near the bodies of two other 8-year-old male victims. He was found completely nude, with his wrists bound to his ankles by shoelaces.

It should be noted that this victim's injuries were the most extensive, most violent, and most overtly sexual of the all the victims in this case. The nature and extent of this victim's wounds indicate that the assailant spent the most time with this victim.

Additionally, this victim's toxicology report revealed non-therapeutic levels of carbamazepine in the blood. All of these differences are very important, and will be explored in the later sections of this report.

Time Of Death Estimates

The Coroner's report completed by Mr. Kent Hale states that lividity (the red discoloration in the skin caused by the pooling and settling of the blood within the blood vessels) was present. It also states that the lividity blanched with pressure. Lividity begins about thirty minutes after death has occurred. After 4 or 5 hours, dependent on environmental conditions, lividity fixes and will not blanche. It takes about 8 to 10 hours for lividity to become fixed. This could place the time of death (which can only be given as a range) of Steve Branch at sometime after daybreak on May 6th, 1993. However it is only one biological indicator, and no one indicator should be used to determine the time of death.

The Coroner's report, completed by Mr. Kent Hale, further states that Rigor Mortis (the chemical process of the exhaustion of ATP in muscle tissue, which begins after death, that results in the stiffening or contracting of muscles in the body) was present, but that it was difficult to assess due to the way the victim was bound. As a general biological guideline, Rigor Mortis begins about 2 to 4 hours after death. And full Rigor Mortis is complete about 8 to 12 hours after death. Cold slows Rigor Mortis down, and heat speeds the process up.

When Dr. Peretti conducted his autopsy of Chris M. Byers, on May 7th, 1993, he stated that 'Rigor was present and fixed to an equal degree in all extremities.' The time that the autopsy was conducted is not noted on the report, therefore is difficult to gauge how far the body was into rigor. However, Dr. Peretti was confident that Rigor was evenly present throughout the extremities, and that he made no mention of any dissolution. As a general guideline, Rigor reaches full even distribution within 12 to 24 hours after death. Also as a general guideline, Rigor begins to disappear within 12 hours after that, at which time decomposition begins. Again, by itself, the use of Rigor Mortis to determine a time of death, or a time range of death, is not advised. Several biological indicators should be used.

As the above suggests, a time of death of any kind is very difficult to estimate given the differences in metabolic processes between individuals, given varying individual anatomy, and given varying environmental factors. The presentation and stages of Rigor Mortis and/ or Livor Mortis (lividity) used to make such estimations are not absolute, and should be treated as guidelines, not hard and fast biological principals to be blanketly generalized from case to case.

Wound Pattern Analysis

There are numerous violent, traumatic injuries to this victim's head, specifically to the base of the skull. There was also evidence of the violent emasculation of the victim's sex organs, extensive lacerations and bruising to the victim's buttocks, as well as numerous superficial scratches, abrasions, and contusions noted throughout the rest of his body. Dr. Peretti also noted that there were numerous healed injuries of varying nature on this victim. Dr. Peretti, however, did not note the presence of defensive wounds.

Again, this indicates a violent, overpowering attack on this victim that he was unable to put up resistance against. The general constellation of wounds to this victim is more advanced, more extensive, more overtly sexually oriented and includes the use of a knife.

This knife was used not only to inflict multiple stabbing and cutting injuries to the victim's inner thighs and genital area, it was used in the emasculation process. There is, unmentioned in either the ME's or Coroner's reports, what appears to be a clear impression of the knife handle on the right side of the large gaping defect left behind after the removal of the victims penis, scrotal sac, and testes. This was impression was created when the knife was thrust full length into the victim by the assailant, during the process of emasculation. This indicates forceful, violent thrusts. The nature of this emasculation, as indicated by these wounds, is neither skilled nor practiced. It was a rageful, careless, but purposeful act carried out in anger.

It is the opinion of this examiner that this injury would have resulted in massive, uncontrollable blood-loss, from which the victim could not have survived without immediate medical attention.

It should also be pointed out that the nature of the stab wounds inflicted on the victim's genital area, separate from those received during the emasculation process, show marked irregular configuration and pulling of the skin. This indicates that either the knife was being twisted as the assailant stabbed the victim, or that the victim was moving as the blade was withdrawn.

As stated by Mark Byers, the step-father of Chris Byers, to Det. Brian Ridge of the West Memphis PD during a formal police interview dated 5-19-93, Mark Byers gave Chris '2 or 3 licks,' described as a spanking with his belt in front of Melissa Byers shortly before his disappearance. There are only three sets of injuries in Chris Byers' buttock area noted by Dr. Peretti in the official autopsy report that would seem to be the result of this spanking. Dr. Peretti does not venture to explain which of those three sets of injuries are the result of the spanking delivered by Mark Byers.

The first set of injuries is described as faint contusions on the surface of the right buttocks (not pictured). These injuries could be consistent with the parental whipping given to Chris Byers by Mark Byers.

The second set of injuries is described as five superficial cutting wounds on the left buttock (pictured on the left in this photo at the right). It should be noted that these injuries are actually lacerations, as indicated by the bridging between the open tissue, and the irregular edges. Both indicators are apparent upon close examination of the photographs. It is the opinion of this examiner that this set of injuries is most consistent with the parental whipping given to Chris Byers by Mark Byers. It is further the opinion of this examiner that after having received this set of injuries, which tore open the skin and would have resulted in some severe bleeding, the victim would have been unable to walk or ride a bicycle without incredible pain and discomfort.

The third set of injuries is the multiple linear superficial interrupted cuts on the right buttock region (pictured in the photo above on the right). These injuries are not consistent with having been made by a belt as they are cuts. The edges are not irregular, and the cuts are interrupted, again indicating movement by the victim or the assailant during the attack.

Furthermore, there is the existence of bruised ovoid compression injuries all over this victim's inner thigh that could be suction type bite marks. Since the ME may have missed this crucial evidence, other areas of his body may show bite mark evidence as well. The autopsy photos of this victim supplied to this examiner were not of sufficient quality to make an absolute determination of any kind, and would require a thorough examination by a qualified forensic odontologist for an informed, conclusive analysis.

Bite mark evidence is very important in any criminal case because it demonstrates behavior and lends itself to individuation. It can reveal to an examiner who committed the act, because bite marks can be as unique as fingerprints and positively identify a suspect. And, once established, it also reveals the act itself; biting. The shoelace ligatures used to restrain this victim did leave deep furrows, and also did leave patterned abrasions on both the wrists and ankles. This indicates that the victim was struggling while the ligatures were in place. This indicates further that the victim was very much conscious before or after the ligatures were affixed to his wrists and ankles.

We know that this victim did not drown, that is to say that no hemorrhagic edema fluid was present in the victim's lungs, or well in the victim's mouth. This indicates that the victim was already dead when he was placed into the 2? ft of water in the drainage ditch at Robin Hood Hills. This is, again, very different from the other two victims in this case.

On a final note, Mr. Hale states in his supplemental report on Chris Byers that there is a stab wound on his head. This is actually incorrect, and rectified by Dr. Peretti who states in his autopsy report of Chris Byers that the same injury is a 1-inch laceration to the left parietal scalp.

Sexual Assault/ Rape Indicators

As Dr. Peretti's examination concluded, no sperm were present in any of the orifices. There were also no apparent injuries to the anus. However the victim was brutally emasculated, and shows some evidence of bite mark injury on the inside of his thighs. This victim was sexually assaulted, and the attack on this victim was highly sexual in its nature.

There are, however, no clear indications of rape (that is, forceful penetration). It is also important to note that though the victim's anus was dilated, this by itself does not indicate or suggest anal penetration. The anus is a sphincter; a muscle which is tight and closed in most living individuals, and always open and dilated in deceased individuals. When someone dies their anus relaxes and dilates. The presence of a dilated anus taken to indicate sexual assault or rape is a very common misinterpretation made by untrained individuals when examining those who have met with violent death.

Lack Of Injuries

There is again a lack of evidence to support any sort of strangulation. Dr. Peretti states that his examination of the neck of this victim revealed no injuries, and the photos that this examiner has seen support that conclusion.

There is also, again, a lack of mosquito bites to this victim, which, as mentioned earlier, suggests that he received his injuries elsewhere first. This because the injuries took time to inflict, time during which many mosquito bites would have been received, even after death.

Additionally, unlike Steve Branch, there is no overkill present in this victim's face. That is to say that this is another of the marked differences between the killings of Steve Branch and Chris Byers which is very important to note, and which will be explored more thoroughly in this report.

Recommendations

It is apparent from the physical evidence in this case that Chris M. Byers was attacked with sudden, violent force from which he defended himself in only a limited fashion. It appears as though this attack took place, at least in part, while his cloths were off and while the shoelace ligatures restrained him. He was sexually assaulted (an assault of a sexual nature, to areas of the body considered to be sexual, that does not include sexual penetration), and associated stab wounds indicate that he may have been conscious during several phases of the attack.

There is also evidence to suggest previous, but recent, physical abuse of Chris Byers. Given the use of corporal punishment by the father, Mark Byers, and given the healed injuries noted by Dr. Peretti, and the extent of the injuries to Chris Byers buttocks, this possibility should be thoroughly investigated.

It is this examiner's recommendation that a forensic odontologist review the aforementioned photos for evidentiary saliency. Without such experts it will be difficult to accurately assess the validity of the related evidence as indicated by the autopsy photos. The photos indicate pattern evidence that is consistent with bite mark evidence, but without an expert's eye and experience the usefulness of that evidence will be limited.

It is also the recommendation of this examiner that an expert in child abuse injuries be asked to review the photographs of the injuries to this victim and make a comment.

Victimology James Michael Moore

The information available to this examiner regarding this particular victim was very limited. It is the opinion of this examiner that a full background investigation should be made of this victim, as well as establishing friends, enemies, regular activities, and that at least a full reconstruction be done of his last 24 hours before he was determined to be missing. It is also the opinion of this examiner that a investigation into the medical records and school records of this child is requisite.

Background

The victim, 8 year old James M. Moore, was born on 7-27-84. At the time of the attack that resulted in his death, he lived on 1398 E. Barton in West Memphis, Arkansas with his mother, Diana Moore. His family is in the lower socioeconomic class.

He attended Weaver Elementary School, and was an avid Boy Scout. In fact he was wearing his Boy Scout shirt and cap at the time of his disappearance, both of which were recovered at the scene with his body.

Physical Traits

The victim is described by his mother, in the missing persons report filed with West Memphis PD on 5-5-93, as: 4 ft. tall, 60 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes.

Clothing

On the evening of his disappearance, according to his mother, the victim was wearing blue pants, a blue Boy Scouts of America shirt, an orange and blue Boy Scouts hat, and tennis shoes.

Risk Assessment

This victim normally lived a low-medium risk lifestyle. He had a structured schedule involving school and extracurricular activities with friends and family. He was expected to be home for dinner, and his mother appeared to be aware of his whereabouts, generally. That is to say, he is normally at low-medium risk of being the victim of this type of crime because of his activities and lifestyle.

On the night of the victim's disappearance, he was not under the direct care of a parent or guardian. And he was engaging in activities away from his neighborhood and the protective eyes of the community. This put him at medium risk of being the victim of this type of crime.

However, he still would have been an extremely high-risk victim from the viewpoint of the assailant responsible for this crime for the following reasons: The victim was in a group, not alone: the assailant would have had to successfully con or incapacitate all of the victims at once to prevent them from getting away. This is possible, but requires ability, strength and competence on the part of the offender.

The victim and his friends were young: young children are very carefully attended to, in general, and are expected places, and will almost always be missed within a short period of time. Steve Edward Branch The information available to this examiner regarding this particular victim was very limited.

It is the opinion of this examiner that a full background investigation should be made of this victim, as well as establishing friends, enemies, regular activities, and that at least a full reconstruction be done of his last 24 hours before he was determined to be missing. It is also the opinion of this examiner that an investigation into the medical records and school records of this child is requisite.

Steve E. Branch Background

The victim, 8 year old Steve E. Branch, was born on 11-26-84. At the time of the attack that resulted in his death, he lived on 1601 E. McAuley in West Memphis, Arkansas with his mother, Pamela Marie Hobbs.

According to the Missing Persons Report filed by Pam Hobbs, at the time of his disappearance the family did not have a telephone at their residence. The Hobbs family is in the lower socioeconomic class.

Steve Branch attended Weaver Elementary School, and was an avid Boy Scout, according to statements made by Mark Byers.

Physical Traits

The victim is described by his mother, in the Missing Persons Report filed with West Memphis PD on 5-5-93, as: 4'2" tall, 60 lbs., blonde hair and blue eyes.

Clothing

On the evening of his disappearance, according to his mother, the victim was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. He was also riding a 20" black colored 'Renegade' bicycle. Personality/ Medical History N/A

Risk Assessment

This victim normally lived a low-medium risk lifestyle. He had a semi- structured schedule involving school and extracurricular activities with friends and family. He was expected to be home for dinner, and his mother appeared to be aware of his whereabouts, generally. That is to say, he is normally at low-medium risk of being the victim of this type of crime because of his activities and lifestyle.

On the night of this victim's disappearance, he was not under the direct care of a parent or guardian. And he was engaging in activities away from his neighborhood and the protective eyes of his parents and the community. This put him at medium risk of being the victim of this type of crime.

However, he still would have been an extremely high-risk victim from the viewpoint of the assailant responsible for this crime for the following reasons:

The victim was in a group, not alone: the assailant would have had to successfully con or incapacitate all of the victims at once to prevent them from getting away. This is possible, but requires ability, strength and competence on the part of the offender.

The victim and his friends were young: young children are very carefully attended to, in general, and are expected places, and will almost always be missed within a short period time.

Christopher Mark Byers Background

The victim, 8 year old Christopher Mark Byers, was born on 6-23-84. At the time of the attack that resulted in his death, he lived on 1400 E. Barton in West Memphis, Arkansas with his mother, Melissa Byers, his step-father, John Mark Byers, and his half brother, 13 year old Ryan Byers, who has dyslexia.

Chris was born Christopher Lee Murray. According to reports written by Pediatric Neurology, P.A., where Chris was a patient, Chris' biological father had 'multiple sociopathies' and was believed to be a paranoid schizophrenic. His biological father was also very aggressive, had a history of difficulty with the law as well as a history of substance abuse.

According to a police interview with Det. Allen dated 5-25-993, Melissa Byers states that John Mark Byers adopted Chris '2 or 3 years ago' at which time Chris' name was changed to Christopher Mark Byers. (Pediatric Neurology, P.A. lists the patient as Chris Murray throughout 1993, but as Chris Byers during 1990)

At the time of Chris Byers' death, the Byers family lived primarily from the disability pay received by Mark Byers, who claims to have been diagnosed with a brain tumor which he further claims results in black outs and slurred speech. Mark Byers was also trained as a jeweler, regularly attended swap meets, and claimed to be taking the prescription drug Tegretol for his seizures (trade name for Carbamazepine).

At this time, Mark Byers was also a drug informant for the West Memphis PD, and enjoyed their confidence and trust, being on a first name basis with most of the detectives investigating this case.

Chris Byers attended Weaver Elementary School, and was not an avid Boy Scout, according to statements made by Mark Byers, but did attend one or two meetings and expressed a desire to become more involved.

Physical Traits

Chris Byers is described by his stepfather, in the missing persons report filed with West Memphis PD on 5-5-93, as: 4'4" tall, 50 lbs., light brown hair and brown eyes.

Clothing

On the evening of his disappearance, according to his Mark Byers, the victim was wearing blue jeans dark shoes, and a white long sleeve shirt. He was also riding a 20" black colored 'Renegade' bicycle.

Intelligence/ Scholastic Achievement

The following information is according a medical report filed by Donald J. Eastmead, MD of Pediatric Neurology, P.A. in Memphis, Tennessee on 1/14/93:

Chris has been tested and appears to be at normal levels, and has a purported 'C' average, but attends special education classes.

Personality/ Medical History The following information is according a medical report filed by Donald J. Eastmead, MD of Pediatric Neurology, P.A. in Memphis, Tennessee on 1/14/93: 'Chris is seen with his mother and stepfather (six years) for extreme impulsivity, destructiveness, opposition, defiance, hyperactivity, extremely low frustration tolerance and refusal to follow commands. There have been episodes of fire starting and anger outbursts with fighting towards the other children. The other children and their parents refuse to let their children play with Chris.'

On page two of that report, Dr. Eastmead gives three diagnosis' of Chris condition: Encephalopathy demonstrated by Attention-Deficit Hyerpactivity Disorder; Intermittent Explosive Behavior; and Conduct Disorder (it should be noted that the onset of conduct disorder before the age of 15 is one of the primary requirements of the Anti-social Personality Disorder). Dr. Eastmead also states: 'Chris is certainly a difficult child who may require in-hospital treatment to gain control of his behavior. I am increasing the medication and changing it to Dexidrine 5 to 10 mg morning and noon, 5 in the afternoon, as well as adding Tegretol (Carbamazepine) 50 to 100 mg t.i.d. Tofranil caused visual hallucinations, and this will not be tried.'

It should also be noted that Chris had been prescribed a regular prescription of Ritalin since at least 4/21/92. According to a missing persons report filed with the West Memphis PD on 5-5-93 by Mark Byers, Chris was on Ritalin at the time of his disappearance, but had not taken his medication that day.

According to an interview with Melissa Byers on 5-25-93 conducted by Det. Allen of the West Memphis PD, Melissa Byers claimed to be concerned that Chris was being sexually abused.

She reportedly spoke with the school guidance counselor regarding this issue, and confronted Chris about it directly. This in response to Chris' pattern of destructive, violent, and defiant behavior, including several incidents of fire setting.

Risk Assessment

This victim normally lived a very high-risk lifestyle. Not only was Chris a defiant child with tendencies towards violence a destructive anti-social behavior, but he was susceptible, needing the attention and approval from others that he was clearly not getting in his home environment.

There are also some very clear indicators that lead this examiner to believe that Chris was being physically, if not sexually, abused. These indicators include Chris' Conduct Disorder, his ADD, and the healed injuries noted in the autopsy report.

It is also clear that despite Chris pattern of behavior, Mark Byers and Melissa Byers put very little effort into regulating the behavior of Chris Byers. He certainly was not being monitored very closely on the day of his disappearance, despite statements by his parents that he was being punished for not waiting around outside his home until someone got home with a key to let him in.

Chris Byers was an emotionally and physically vulnerable child who was constantly on medication, who desired the attention of others and who was constantly exhibiting defiant, violent, and impulsive behaviors. This was not a healthy child, living in a healthy home environment.

However, Chris still would have been a moderately high-risk victim from the viewpoint of any assailant responsible for this crime for the following reasons: The victim was in a group, not alone: the assailant would have had to successfully con or incapacitate all of the victims at once to prevent them from getting away. This is possible, but requires ability, strength and competence on the part of the offender. The victim and his friends were young: young children are very carefully attended to, in general, and are expected places, and will almost always be missed within a short period time.

Crime Scene Characteristics

Scene Type

A primary crime scene is most often defined as the scene where the most interactions between the victim and the offender take place. The crime scene that these three victims were found at was a disposal site only. It was secondary to the primary crime scene. This is established by the following factors:

The nature and extent of the wounds inflicted upon these victims, especially the emasculation of Chris Byers, required light, required time, and required uninterrupted privacy. As it was dark in those woods, and as search parties were traveling in and out of the area all evening, this dictates a secluded structure of some kind away from the immediate area of attention.

The nature and extent of the wounds inflicted upon these victims, especially the emasculation of Chris Byers, would have resulted in a tremendous amount of blood loss. Very little blood was found at this scene on the banks of the drainage ditch.

The stabbing injuries and emasculation injuries inflicted upon Chris Byers alone, because Chris was conscious during at least part of the assault, would have resulted in a great deal of screaming. Of all the sounds reported that evening by searchers and local residents, screaming was not among them.

It is the opinion of this examiner, then, that this crime as it stands is at least three crime scenes short of being solved. That is to say that there are at least four crime scenes total involved in this crime:

The abduction site (presumably in or near the Robin Hood Hills area)

The attack site (a nearby structure or residence)

The dump site (The drainage ditch where the bodies were found)

The vehicle used to transport (a truck of some kind)

Method of Approach

The three victims in this case were last seen together on two bicycles riding towards the Robin Hood Hills area. It is most likely that the assailant approached them while still together. This high likelihood and the sudden violent nature of the wounds, coupled with limited resistance on the part of the victims, is very suggestive.

These elements together suggest that someone that the victims knew and trusted approached them. They further suggest that once the confidence of the three victims was won, the assailant was able to take them to another location and gain control of them in some manner.

It is clear that the assailant was much larger and stronger than the victims, so physical intimidation and fear were factors. This would have been a factor in the initial approach. It is also clear that the assailant had a knife, but this would not have been displayed during the initial approach. The method of approach in this case was most likely a con of some kind to acquire trust, followed up at another location by a sudden, violent attack to gain control.

Methods of Control

The assailant in this case controlled his assault on these three victims with very specific, deliberate methods.

Firstly, he removed them to a location that he was familiar with, where he could feel dominant and establishes his authority by his presence alone.

Secondly, he delivered sudden and violent traumatic blows to each of the victim's heads. The superficial blows could have been corrective in nature, that is to say, delivered with the intent to gain compliance. However it is clear that the main body of injuries were rageful in nature, being deep, forceful, and resulting in extensive damage.

Thirdly, the assailant did bind each of the victims. Steve Branch and Chris Byers both show deep ligature furrows with ligature abrasions, indicating that they were alive and conscious while the bindings were in place. James Moore had no ligature abrasions, indicating he was unconscious while his bindings were in place. This indicates that the assailant did not feel the need to bind James Moore until much later in the offense. This indicates that either James Moore was completely compliant to the offender's commands, or that he was unconscious. Given the overall retaliatory nature of this attack, the level of excessive brutality, and the lack of emotional control demonstrated by the assailant in this case, it is the opinion of this examiner that James Moore was unconscious throughout most of this attack. He very likely received the first attack from the assailant, perhaps as an example to the other two victims.

Fourthly, there is the indication that Carbamazepine (Tegretol) was used on Chris Byers, as it was found in non-therapeutic levels in his system according to the toxicology report. It needs to be established what that child was taking at the time, in what doses, and what should have been in his system. If this child received a non-therapeutic dose of Carbamazepine, this could indicate an attempt at a fourth method of control on the part of the assailant.

The assailant's Methods of Approach and his Methods of Control speak to an offender who knew these victims well, and who had given some limited thought as to how to carry off this crime before doing so. However the use of available materials in the commission of the crime (shoelaces for bindings, potentially Carbamazepine), the amount of physical evidence left behind on the bodies (despite the fact that it was originally overlooked), and the anger evident in these assaults speak to an offender who did not set out on that evening to commit the crimes committed.

Amount of Force

There was a high level of suddenly applied physical force used to gain these victims' initial compliance once they had been removed to the primary crime scene.

There was a brutal level of physical force used throughout the assault on the victims. The victims were all given violent, traumatic blows to the head; Steve Branch received massive gauging and/ or bite mark injuries to his face; and Chris Byers received multiple stab wounds to his groin, up to and including a violent, unskillful emasculation.

The offender's need for these excessive levels of force, victim damage, and specific sexual violence indicate an extremely reactive, angry, retaliatory offender. These kids were being punished for some real or perceived wrong.

The amount of force and the nature of the force that was used on these victims suggest also that this assailant would not have bargained with or listened to the pleas of these victims. The assailant was enraged, and concerned only with teaching these victims a lesson, from his point of view.

Victim Resistance

The victims demonstrated only limited resistance to this attack. This is demonstrated by the very limited amount of defensive injury noted in the autopsy reports. This speaks to the sudden, unexpected application of force from an overwhelming assailant.

Type and Sequence of Sexual Acts

There is only physical evidence to suggest one overtly sexual act committed during the attacks on these three victims. That is the emasculation of Chris Byers. As will be explained, this is a sexual act with some sexual meaning to the offender. However it was more punishment oriented and should not be confused with something which would have necessarily sexually aroused the offender.

As explained in a prior section, the abrasions on Steve Branch's penis, which were likely self-inflicted, are not necessarily related to this particular attack. They do however, indicate a sexualized child which suggests a child who is being sexually abused.

Precautionary Acts

This case is replete with precautionary acts that were committed by the assailant. Precautionary acts are behaviors that the assailant purposefully engages in to protect his own identity, facilitate his escape from the scene, and destroy or deny the transfer of physical evidence (an uncomplex example would be a burglar who wears a mask and gloves; both are precautionary acts).

The following are examples of precautionary acts committed by the assailant. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but rather to demonstrate the assailant's state of mind before, during and after the offense:

Removal of the victims to a location that he controlled: This act put the offender and the victims in an environment that the offender controlled. It facilitated an unseen, uninterrupted attack upon the victims, providing the assailant with the time to engage in those activities that he desired.

Disposal of the bodies in the water: This act very effectively washes all of the physical transfer evidence from the bodies of the victims. It also places the victims at a location separate from the assailant.

Destruction of the victim's clothing and related evidence: This act, carried out by dumping the victim's clothing in the water, used the water in the drainage to help wash away transfer evidence. It also serves the purpose of preventing investigators from finding the victim's clothing on the assailant should his residence or related location be searched.

Conclusions regarding these behaviors will be drawn in the Offender Characteristics section.

Purpose of the Assault

It is the opinion of this examiner that the primary reason for these killings was punitive. The victims were being punished for some real or perceived wrong. The reasons for this opinion have been thoroughly established in other parts of this report.

It should be pointed out at this point that this examiner is under the opinion that James M. Moore was a collateral victim. That is to say that he was not an intended victim, and that he died because of his association with the other two victims at the time. The anger of the assailant in this case, manifested in victim damage and sexual mutilation, is directed primarily at Steve Branch and Chris Byers. This would indicate that the strongest personal associations with the assailant are with Chris and Steve.

Number of Assailants

It is the opinion of this examiner that the number of assailants in this case was most likely two. The presentation is more consistent with two offenders than with one, or three. This is for the following reasons:

The number of victims abducted and killed would have been more easily accomplished with two assailants.

It would have been easier to inflict the range of injuries on the victims with two assailants, especially for the emasculation of Chris Byers.

The nature, quality and extent of the injuries to Chris Byers and Steve Branch are markedly different, and suggest two separate offenders with very different ways of expressing their rage.

Steve Branch was bitten repeatedly about the face, with deep, tearing bites that left behind lacerations and poor detail. He suffered no stab wounds or cutting wounds. There is no sexual indication to the assault on his person, only punishment.

Chris Byers suffered comparatively less injury to the face, receiving the greatest attention to his genitals, which were stabbed repeatedly and then ultimately removed. In addition, the bite marks he appears to have suffered were of the 'suck mark' type, which is more sexually oriented. There is, in fact, a sexual aspect in the attack to Chris Byers' genitals, which clearly points to an offender ashamed of his own sexuality, and perhaps confused and angered by his own sexual attraction to males. Part of why Chris is being punished is for his own sexuality, and the sexuality that his genitals represent to the assailant. The offender punished Chris and established, or re-establish, sexual ownership of him through the emasculation.

This is again most consistent with two separate offenders, because you would expect that assailant would have emasculated both or neither given his propensity. It is further the opinion of this examiner that the attack on Chris Byers was carried out by a male assailant. But that the attack carried out on Steve Branch could have been either a male or female assailant. The Battered Child nature of the bite marks on Steve Branch, in the experience of this examiner, is more often associated with a female offender.

'Satanic Ritual' Assessment

This crime does not present at all as a satanic ritual, or cult related, homicide. According to the Crime Classification Manual by Douglas et al, a designation of 141: Cult Murder has specific defining characteristics that are largely unseen in these particular homicides. They are as follows: Victimology Cult murders or satanic murders can be the result of randomly selected victims, but most often the victims are members of the group, or fringe members. Though it does generally involve multiple members.

Crime Scene Indicators

The crime scene will generally contain items or imagery that are symbolic to the group or cult. The disposal methods involving the bodies tend to be thorough burials in mass graves when the killing is meant to intimidate a small group of people.

Little attempt will be made to conceal the body when the purpose of the killing is to intimidate a larger number of people, however the body will often be positioned symbolically in such cases. There are, however, generally indications of multiple offenders, as in this case.

Investigative Considerations

The leaders of cults or such groups tend to have a masterful ability to attract and manipulate people, exploiting their vulnerability. The purpose for killing tends to be to eliminate troublemakers and/ or tighten his control over the group.

'Serial Killer' Assessment

Victimology

The victimology in this case does not lend itself to suggesting a serial offender. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Firstly, and most importantly, the victims would have represented a very high risk to any offender because there were three of them, and they were young children.

Three victims are a problem because if you grab one or two, the third could get away and later identify you. Serial offenders who grab kids off their bikes are going to take one, maybe two, victims at the most. But assaults or abductions of three victims or higher tend to occur when an offender breaks into a residence, or some other enclosed environment, with victims already inside. The offender would then be free to assault one victim at a time while able to control the others with bindings or a weapon of some kind.

Young children are a problem to serial offenders because they are missed very soon after they are acquired. So an offender grabbing a young child would most likely get as far away from the abduction site as possible before initiating any kind of activity such as an assault.

The Disposal Site

The disposal site was a drainage ditch with 2? ft of water located near a very busy Interstate, behind a very popular truck wash. The victim's clothing, the victim's bicycles, and the victim's bodies were disposed of there.

The disposal site itself is not visible from the Interstate, or even from the truck wash. In short, you'd have to be very familiar with the area to know that it was even there. You'd further have to be someone from the immediate area, which frequented that location recently, to know that there would be water available in which to dispose of the bodies. That drainage ditch can be dry, depending on a variety of factors.

Additionally, the assailant disposed of the clothes and the bicycles in that drainage ditch, suggesting that he needed to get rid all of the related physical evidence. And the location itself is very near where the point of initial approach would have to be in this case. Both of those items point, again, to someone who is a local resident who knew the victims. They felt they would be searched because of their relationship to the victims so they dumped all of the physical evidence; in stranger crimes where sexual assault or ritual is the motivation the assailant might have kept the clothes to relive the experience later in fantasy.

But more importantly, the location of the dumpsite itself does not suggest a serial offender. As indicated, it's simply too close to the point of abduction. If this assailant had been a stranger to the victims, then he would have grabbed them, and, knowing that others would be looking for the boys soon, he would have left the area immediately. Subsequently, the bodies would have been disposed of somewhere far away from West Memphis along down the Interstate, and a greater attempt would have been made to prevent the bodies from being discovered. All of this would have served to help a stranger or serial offender in his escape from the area, undetected.

Instead, the bodies were disposed of right where they were last seen, in the area where most of the people searching for them were looking. This suggests that the assailant wanted the bodies to be found quickly. No time was taken to conceal the bodies, because the offender did not have a great distance to go in order to be in his safe-zone. They were just dumped in the water, clothes, bicycles and all.

Wound patterns

The wound patterns inflicted on these victims are punishment oriented. That is to say that they were inflicted with the intention to punish these children for a real or perceived transgression. This is known because the wounds are violent, traumatic, and the product of rage. But in addition to that, the type of injuries inflicted, (i.e. the bite marks and the evident anger), pointedly indicate a custodial type homicide.

Because this is so, and because of the other factors discussed, it further lessens the likelihood of a serial offender or stranger being involved in this case.

Battered Child Homicide Assessment In this examiner's opinion, this classification is the most consistent with the physical evidence, crime scene and victimological presentation in this case. According to Practical Homicide Investigation by Vern Geberth, 3rd Ed., pp.642-643, the interpretation of patterns of bite mark evidence breaks down, generally, as such

Homosexual Homicides tend to involve bite marks of the back, arms, shoulders, axillae (armpits, face, and scrotum of the victim).

Heterosexual Homicides usually involve bite marks delivered by the assailant to the breast and thighs.

Battered children most often have randomly placed bite marks on the cheeks, back, and sides. However, bite marks on battered children have also been found on the abdomen, scrotum, and buttocks. In child cases, biting seems to be done in a rapid, random, and enraged manner leaving tissue laceration, diffuse areas, and poor detail, as opposed to sexually associated bite marks, usually inflicted in a slow and sadistic manner and resulting in excellent detail.

Note: According to Dr. Lowell Levine (as detailed Practical Homicide Investigation), there are two general but distinct types of bite mark patterns.

1) Those which are inflicted slowly, which leave a central ecchymotic area or 'suck mark,' and a radiating linear abrasion patter surrounding the central area resembling a sunburst. The type is most often found in sexually oriented homicides;

2) Those which resemble a tooth mark pattern. This is an attack or defensive bite mark and is seen most often in the battered-child type of homicide.

The bite marks in this case appear to be, in the majority, of the nature and quality described above in the Battered Child Homicide.

Based on this evidence, and the location of the disposal site, and the victimology, and the other injuries inflicted on the victims, it is the opinion of this examiner that this case represents a battered child or child-custodial homicide. To a greater extent the parents, and to a lesser extent the guardians, relatives and anyone else who was allowed frequent, trusted access to these children should be thoroughly investigated as suspects in this case.

Offender Personality Characteristics

There are very likely two offenders involved in the deaths of these children. This section will focus on the characteristics of the primary, retaliatory offender.

As already stated, the purpose of this offense was to punish the victim and to establish or re-establish sexual ownership of the victim Chris Byers. He is likely very similar in relationships with women in the rest of his life. His own violent and selfish sexual behaviors are indicative of how he is perceived by those who know him. He is likely a very selfish and explosive individual with a potentially violent temper. He wants those around him to think that he does not care how others view him. He would be described by those who know him well as hostile, angry, and as someone who carries grudges.

His sexual assault on the genitals of Chris Byers suggests that he projects a macho, heterosexual, in-control image to those around him despite deep homosexual urges.

This is an extremely egocentric individual who cannot take the criticism of others, or tolerate shortcomings of any kind. He would further be described as someone who requires instant gratification for his impulses, and who can react violently when those impulses are not satisfied. He is glib and superficial, but also extremely manipulative. He must be dominant in all relationships with women. He can also become very possessive and irrationally jealous of those he feels are not spending enough time attending to his needs in his sexual relationships. His jealousy and possessiveness can and have manifested themselves in violent behavior acted out towards the females in his life.

Arrest History

The numerous precautionary actions taken by the offender, despite the fact the crime was not planned fully, demonstrate a level of knowledge and sophistication obtained through either repeated offenses, some level of exposure to law enforcement training and techniques, or previous arrests for similar crimes.

The offender shows some knowledge of forensic methods, and attempts to dupe those specific efforts. This offender has very possibly spent some time in prison, and if not is committing other petty crimes to support himself. He will most likely have been arrested or detained for incidents involving drugs, violent behavior, and assaultive behavior.

Marital Status

The offender's behavior and attitude suggest someone who is capable only of short term or sporadic on and off relationships with the females in his life. He very likely has been married more than once. His attitude towards women is very misogynistic, and his previous relationships with women would have involved a great deal of physical and/ or emotional abuse. If this offender was married at the time of the offense, and indicators are not clear on this issue, then his marriage would have been in crisis at the time of this offense. And his wife may very well have been the compliant partner in this crime.

Residence

The offender lives within a few miles of the disposal site. This is indicated by the very poor attempt at concealing the bodies when disposing of them, and the fact that they were disposed of where they would be quickly found, in the area being searched by so many people including law enforcement.

It is very likely, in fact, that the offender was part of the search effort for these children, and that he placed the bodies in a specific location with perhaps the intent of being the one to later find them in an attempt to shift the blame.

Skill Level

Given the demographic location of this offense, and the fact that the offender was likely a local resident with a great familiarity of the area and the habits of the people in the area, it is not likely that the offender is educated past the high-school level. He would have performed poorly in school due to his aggressive nature, intolerance for others, and his overall impatience. He does not demonstrate characteristics of education at the high school level, though he may have obtained a GED at some point.

However the offender demonstrates a wealth of applied criminal knowledge about investigative techniques and forensic methods. He is not the kind of offender to leave obvious physical evidence behind at a crime scene without making some attempt to obscure it. He demonstrates foresight in his disposal behavior, as well as a complete understanding of the criminal nature and quality of his acts, as clearly shown in his extensive regimen of precautionary behavior.

Hobbies/ Personal Interests

As indicated by his use of one or more knives in the commission of this crime, this offender has a very intense interest in knives and likely has an extensive collection of them in his home.

It also likely that the offender has the same type of interest in firearms, and in hunting. He also very likely has a drinking problem, and/ or a very bad drug habit which he must commit crimes to support.

Employment It is very likely that this offender is unemployed. He lacks the skills, discipline, and patience to hold down a full time job. When employed, he is often late, absent, or fails to show up at all. His temper and disposition keep him from legitimate work, and likely his true source of income is the sale of drugs or other illegal activity.

Transportation If he does own a vehicle, it would be masculine, like a truck. This would also be consistent with the type of vehicle he would need to transport the victims to the disposal site. It would further be in strict keeping with his macho self-image of strength and control. The offender's own vehicle was likely used in this offense.